to Norfolk Day
3 – Where do naval ships go in the day? Arrival in Norfolk
2300 Wednesday 25 April 2012
Where do US Navy ships go in daylight? I have no idea but I jolly
well know where they go at night. By dawn they just seem to melt
away. Judging from the numbers tied up in the Norfolk Naval base, passed
at 1130 this evening, perhaps they have to be back in their berths before the
light of dawn. We certainly did not see any during the day which is odd
when you consider how many there appear to be out at night.
We rounded Cape Hatteras at 0200 about 10 miles off the Cape and with no marked increase in the sea.
Rounding and coming onto the wind was made a little more difficult than it
might by a tight riding turn on the staysail winch that took a number of pieces
of rope, blocks and a winch to sort out. After a couple of hours motor
sailing we were able to lay our course without engine for Cape Henry at the
entrance to the Chesapeake.
Shortly after rounding Cape
Hatteras I started to see
the lights of three ships that did not appear on the AIS; a sure sign of
warships in this part of the world where they carry two steaming lights unlike
Royal Navy ships which only carry one. The first one from its radar image
and vague mass of lights some 8 miles away must have been a carrier, no stealth
technology there. The second one passed us safely but the second one
definitely appeared to have our name on it and the radar showed it to be on a
collision course at 2nm out on our starboard side. On with all the deck
lights and a call on VHF raised them. After a second call and now at ½ nm
they very courteously offered to alter course passed behind us. Naval
vessels out in the middle of the night exercising are as difficult to avoid as
fishing boats as they tend to pursue somewhat random courses and speed; the big
difference is that, from experience, naval vessels answer radio calls. Oh
and if that was not enough there were a variety of fast small boats zooming
around the place which I assume were Marines at play.
Dawn came up like thunder from out the Atlantic, well it was very
beautiful as was the day that followed. The wind kept on coming and going
and as we were very much on the wind judicious uses of engine was required to
maintain progress as we had decided to get into Norfolk during the hours of darkness rather
than slow down and await the dawn. Originally the passage plan gave an
arrival time of Thursday late morning but such good progress had been made as
to bring the ETA back to midnight Wednesday. So we had beautiful
day’s progress in an almost flat sea with just a gentle swell to let you
know that you were sailing in the open Atlantic.
Cape Henry, the southern tip of the entrance to the Chesapeake
was rounded at 1900, in the company of dolphins, and it was then the 28nm slog
half against the ebb into Norfolk.
Because of the lateness of the hour it was our intention to anchor off Hospital
Point and wait for the morning to go into the Pilot House Berth but as we came
abreast of Pilot House the VHF sprang into life with Greta saying that they
would be down on the dock to help us get along side if we wished; and that is
exactly what happened. This is the fourth time that I have come into this
dock and for the first time current and only a small breeze blowing us off
allowed a decorous arrival, enough said about the others.
It was good to catch up with Gary and Greta and a little damage was
done to a bottle of port purchased by us at Croft’s in Oporto – a real Ocean Cruising Club
bottle, qualified, or is that quaflified, in its own right.
Distance from Andros, Bahamas to Norfolk